Growing Saffron

Hey guys, yep I am still here. Working a lot, its total rush time at the Design Studio everyone waits till the last minute and then wants a house full of new window treatments, bedding and or upholstered furniture in time for the Thanksgiving and or Christmas Holidays :O)... so till end of year its a crazy place at work! :O)... I am hanging tight though...

Okay so on a fun gardening note... which is all that keeps sane right now and well always as gardening is my favorite thing in the world to be doing for sure! When I do have a day off and or time I am outside doing something! As of late, digging, potting my two rows of raspberries which will be replanted in a new locations next spring sometime... in hopes they will like that spot better and actually make berries!! :O) I have almost got one row dug up and potted! Its been a job but to be honest not as bad as I feared it might be. I am also creating new raised beds for things I will need space for next spring... As ya'll know due to moles I have to do raised beds for most everything I grow or I have to cage it in wire in the ground as the moles are real stinkers here!

One thing I am creating a new raised bed for is. 

Anyone out there grow saffron? Well I ordered 150 bulbs and will have a 15 foot x 3 foot row! The bulbs will be arriving really quick. Its a tad on the late side to be planting them, in that I won't get a crop this year. They bloom in October which obviously has passed. But its not to late to do the bed and plant them. Next year I will get a crop of saffron!

I have been speed reading everything I could on growing it ... what conditions it likes... the climate...the sun requirements... the dirt... etc etc. Our climate seems very compatible to growing saffron. Someone please pinch me because our extreme climate usually is not what a plant wants ROFL.
Very little water as a matter a fact is just what saffron likes, as water is not saffrons friend... Ok :O) that I can handle check very little water got that... Did you know that from April to Sept. the saffron bulb crocus sativus is dormant... yep its just under the ground doing nadda.... and get this ... You don't water it during this time!!..... I can hardly wrap my brain around something not getting watered from April to Sept here where we live in the Sahara Desert  ermmm  I mean Texas.....with our heat and lack of rain? but nope its true. I talked with the very nice people I ordered the bulbs from to make sure I understood how to grow these little fellas and its true! So then in Sept. you can give them a drink if you didn't get rain and they will shoot up their green grassy like foliage up and then they begin to bloom. You have approximately 4 weeks give or take to harvest the flowers and pull the stigmas out (the saffron) The red things you see in the photo below.  Each flower has only three red stigma. You only have 48 hours to get each flower as they live 48 hours. So every single day you are out checking to see what is ready to harvest. This is why real saffron is sooooooooooooooo expensive to buy. Its a totally hand harvested crop. The window for harvesting is narrow and its a lot of work. Thus the price of real saffron.

Well ya know I love a good gardening challenge so I am putting in a 15 foot bed! I must say I am so excited I can hardly stand it! But it will be next October before I see the fruits of my work (I hope)! 

Today I was off but it was raining off and on. Not complaining at all, we need it! I tried to get out and do some work on the location of where my raised mole proof saffron bed will go but I wasn't able to get much at all done. I did make it to the Home Depot and purchased the wire we use in the bottom of all our raised beds. So that was something! 
I still have enough cinder blocks here to do the bed out of...
I will fill the bed with a nice mix of organic compost and sand and such. They don't like to stay wet, they will rot apparently quickly if they are kept to wet. So a good soil mix that drains very well is what I am shooting for. 

Apparently the flowers smell really nice and well they are surely pretty too! I will be putting  a net over the bed as its my understanding that squirrels like the bulbs and will dig them up. I also will be fencing the area so that rabbits can't dig them up, as apparently they like them too! 

So as usual I have managed to get myself into plenty of work .. but oh my how fun this work is! 
Any of ya'll growing saffon? I would love to hear your experiences with it if so.  

Quick hello

I am working more at the shop again, long story. But for now I am good with it.
Off today, so I am trying to cram in a lot!

Stripped the bed

Put on a crock pot of spaghetti sauce for supper.

Two loads of laundry, last one still on the line.

Canned banana peppers today, yesterday I canned jalapeno peppers, my peppers have decided to kick in gear :O) a bit.

Cleaned out the goat barn

Spread all that lovely fertilizer on garden rows.

Pulled up some dead vegetable plants, and cages. Still do not have all my rows put to bed, but getting close. Just a few things left.

Did a bit of computer work for the shop only 30 minutes but never the less...

and now....  I am getting tired LOL

and so on

I have been busy putting the garden to bed.. pulling old plants,,, cutting back the herb bed which was totally out of control. Trimming plants etc.  Trying to get some things planted that I have grown from seed that were ready to go in the ground.... I have more of that to do. With fall coming now is the time to try to get some of it in the ground.

I have decided to move my two raised beds of raspberries... What a undertaking this will be. First I am trying to figure out where to move them to! You don't see many raspberries here where I live. I myself struggled to get them to live. Finally I managed and figured out to keep them under shade covers and they wouldn't burn up in our sun. I gave them two of my  prime rows in my big vegetable garden. They take a entire hoop house with shade covers. Well a few are three yrs and most are 1.5 to 2 yrs. I have only seen a handful of raspberries sighhhh...  I have decided that I simply can't justify letting them have the two rows under a hoop house which I have shade covers for any longer. They are not producing and they were huge this year! Lush big green plants and no berries........ The two rows will go back to being vegetable beds. The raspberries I will dig up and move to a new location. It can't be full sun, it can't get west sun. It needs to be morning sun and a bit of mid day sun or they will burn up. I have to be able to get a water hose to the area as well. I will put a soaker hose in with them when I plant. I hope they live and I hope to get berries some day LOL. I read up and it seems raspberries can do this . Not make berries. I read several reasons why this occurs and sadly not really any solutions.... I had no idea to be honest that this was a issue with them. My experience is really with blackberries which pretty much is if you have the plants they make berries LOL... I came across  many threads online of people looking for answers just as I was. They had the plants, they looked great but they were not getting any berries. Its going to be a major undertaking moving those plants! But I am going to do it because I want those to prime rows to be productive rows, producing food for us.

Keeper had a spell of not feeling well and it worried me greatly!! But he is right as rain and doing great now! Still a bit of a mystery as to what was going on but again he is doing good now! :O)

We have been having some lovely weather as of late :O) Its been nice!

We did have a storm come through on Thursday that was quite fierce... The weather people said the weather tracker they have out by us clocked the winds at 83 miles an hour. We had some limbs down and a bit of minor damage on the farm. Some didn't fair near as well.

Honeyman was on his way back in from out of town and got stuck in Houston because they closed the Dallas airport due to a storm. They sent the flight he was on to Houston because they could not land in Dallas....Finally before it was over he and the co worker that was with him rented a car in Houston and drove home to Dallas and then he had to drive to our house from the Dallas airport where his truck was..... They drove into the storm and honeyman said  it was quite un-nerving to say the least.  Bless his heart one very tired honeyman made it home finally at 2 a.m. in the morning... It was a very tiring trip all the way around for him...

I am still working as well for the Interior Design studio. A lot I can do from home but some I go into the shop for. Not daily like I was though...This is working out well! :O)

So that is what has been going on around here..........

Keeper popping in to say hi

Hi all its me Keeper, just popping in to say hello and to show you my bunny. I have been taking him everywhere in the house with me since Mom gave him to me. Taking good care of him. He looks small next to my head :O),  but bunny is actually 16" tall with his ears bent down like they are now and 12" wide. My head is just so big I dwarf him. 
Right now I am starting to grow out my summer hair cut. No really my hair is only half as long as it will be this winter and then I look HUGE! Well ok I look huge now but then I look XXX Huge LOL

To give you some idea how big Keeper has grown to be, our floor tiles are 22 inch squares. We now have to order his harness offline as he is so big the ones at the regular pet stores aren't large enough, nope not even the biggest ones pet smart sells. I am going to try to get some of the strapping that they are made from and see if I can make him a larger one first myself. His collar is the same way the biggest collar which is what he has on now is on the last hole. Need to either order or make him a new one from somewhere that sells  XXXL LOL

Can't even tell you how much we love this big furry fella!
Keeper is not sad though he does sorta look it in these photos. I woke him up taking pictures LOL He has sleepy face. LOL. 

 LOL I was not cooperating with Mom. I wanted to lay down yawnnn she wanted me to stand up for this photo. A Great Pyrenees needs his sleep ermm about 20 out of 24 hours ya know ROFL ROFL
Oh dear I see the chewed corner of the baseboard is in this photo, now I can explain. See I was just a puppy then 9 months old. Mom had just brought me home from rescue and well it was all new to me. I don't do that now. Mom really needs to fix that! 

Questions answered from last post on canning, recipes etc.

Well let me see if I can answer the questions you guys asked...

I got the cute canning jars from Bealls Dept. Store.  I know odd place to buy canning jars but there is where I found them, on clearance no less! :O) I have a bit of an addiction to buying canning jars :O). I can't pass up a cute one even if I don't really neeeeeeeed them. LOL

The squash recipe and what the FDA says now... okay here is the deal. I am comfortable with what I did. This is NOT what the FDA says now. So if your a FDA stickler canner then you might as well move on past this squash section LOL.. Please don't leave me yukky comments on this.. Everyone does what they are comfortable with in canning  :O).... and since I was asked how I did this I am posting it for those that asked :O)...

My granny :O) who in my eyes was perfect yes I said perfect and she was :O). My grandparents who raised me for over half of my childhood were saints on this earth for sure. We lived in the Ozark Mountains of AR. My granny canned all of our vegetables ( including squash) and or we cold stored them.  We did not buy canned goods (vegetables and fruits) at the store. We bought staples only  flour, sugar, lard from a itty bitty little grocery in a town about 45 minutes down the mountain to a town from where our farm was..... you get the idea. Makes me think of a sweet memory of mine, my Grandpa was a large man well over six feet and big, not heavy just big!  He would tell me at the grocery store I could pick out all the candy I could hold in my hands. Well I soon figured out that my Grandpa had very large hands! So as soon as we got to the store I would pick out candy and take it to my Grandpa and say, "you hold my candy grandpa".. and because my grandpa was the best in the world he would let me fill his hands with candy and take it to the counter at check out time. Never ever once saying that there was no way I could possibly hold in my little hands all the candy he could in his very large ones LOL. The grocer always put my candy in its own little bag and hand it to me :O) ...LOL I guess I didn't think my grandpa knew what I was doing LOL...  One of many memories I would not take a million dollars for... The love of my grandparents is what has always sustained me in my life and any good that is in me now is truly a result of them and the spirituality they instilled me in.

Ok back to canning, none of us ever came down with any canned good related illness .... now having said that... This recipe comes from a Kerr home canning book I have, its copyrighted from 1952 to 1972.. I was asked for how I can squash, this is how I do it . :O)

I would like to add that I usually let the squash that I can get big. Canning squash is perfect for those Zucchini that get away from you in the garden and are like baseball bats LOL.. Actually its the perfect use in my way of thinking for them. They hold their texture very well. What I do is scrape out the seeds and can the meat and I will sometimes peel off some of  the skin doing every other strip down the zucchini. The size you decide to cut it isn't all that important just be uniform with it. I like to cut it into the size chunks you see. Canned squash is good sauteed with butter and salt or pepper.. Its good for zucchini breads, its good for squash casseroles. It is not as firm as fresh squash so keep that in mind. Yellow squash is the same bigger firmer squash, cut out or scrape out the pithy seed area.. Can the meat..

Boil water, I use distilled water when I can anything, because we do not have a water well and are on county water. I don't want those chemicals in my canned goods. I only drink distilled water so I surely am using it as well in my canned goods! I will pass on all the crap that is in county/city water. I have a counter top distiller and have for years...... But its your call you can use tap water if you want to.

Adjust for your altitude, I live below 1000 feet so that is my canning time. Add one minute for every 1000 feet you live above 1000 feet sea level the book says. This type of canning of squash is done in a PRESSURE CANNER always!
Process quarts for 45 minutes in a pressure canner
Process pints for 35 minutes in a pressure canner

Pack your prepared squash into sterilized jars.Add one tsp canning salt to quarts and half tsp to pints.  Then cover with boiling water.( I add 1 tsp powdered vitamin C per gallon of water). One gallon of water I find will do 8 tightly packed quart jars of squash. (You want pure plain vitamin C powder). Nothing else added. You do not HAVE to use vitamin C. I add this its not in the book. I use it for color retention mostly. Canned squash will turn color after a while of sitting and the vitamin C just helps it to retain its pretty appetizing look and obviously is good for you too. Fill your jars to within 1/2 inch of the top with the water. Put on your lids and rings. Put in pressure canner for appropriate time for your altitude. Thats it.

Dehydrating and re hydrating peppers.
What I do is wash and chop the peppers in my food processor. Fairly small. Put on my shelves in the dehydrator. I let them go in the dehydrator till they are very dry. Then store in a glass jar. I use my air sucky thing to suck the air out of the jar and seal it. But if you don't have one just seal them up in a jar with a good lid with rubber seal on it. Then when your ready to use them add water with a bit of salt in it to re hydrate them. I would go 2 to 1. 2 water 1 peppers... If what your putting them in has juice like soup or such.. just toss them dry into the soup and let the soup re hydrate them. They will keep a very very long time if you can seal them up tight in a glass jar.

Ok the ketchup... this is the first year for me to make this ketchup.. I have made ketchup before that I liked a lot but honey man likes his ketchup sweet like you buy at the store an what I made before was not sweet which is what I like LOL... well this year I decided to make sweet as honeyman eats more ketchup than I do... so this is the recipe I used .. it tasted really good to me when I jarred it.. It was sweet like ketchup you buy and the flavor was really good

Ketchup canning
In a non reactive pan
4 lbs of skinned chopped tomatoes
1 cup sweet onion chopped such as vadalia ( I used vadalia)
1/2 cup organic brown sugar
1 1/4 cups organic sugar
1 1/2 tsp canning salt
1/2 tsp coriander
1/4 tsp cumin
1/8 cup cider vinegar ( I used regular)
1/8 cup balsamic vinegar
Juice of one lemon (2 tbls)

In a spice bag at boiling. Leave in after you turn down to simmer for 30 minutes
1 stick cinnamon
1 tsp celery seed
1 tsp mustard seed
1 tsp allspice whole

Skin your tomatoes using boiling water.
Chop tomatoes, put in nonreactive pot and add all other ingredients.
Bring to boil an turn down to simmer, Cook until the mixture is the consistency your want your ketchup to be ...  this can take 3,4,5 hours...  it depends on how juicy your tomatoes were. (this is where a crock pot can come in reallllly handy, you can put this in a crock pot and let it cook down till its the thickness you want.  It wont stick and you can put a splatter screen over it and just let it go) Don't put the lids on it .. A grease splatter screen will keep any bugs or what not out while your not watching it and yet let the moisture escape.)
 Once its the thickness you want, jar in sterilized jars. Put in a hot water bath canner for 20 minutes. I can mine in 8 oz jars.

whew, ok I think I covered it :O)...

Since ya'll asked

Some of you guys have asked to see photos, here is a sampling of what I canned this year. Not everything but several of the things.
This year I tried several new recipes and I was very pleased with a lot of them. They will become yearly cans now. 
We try to grow and preserve as much of our food as we can. I also dehydrate peppers, squash, onions etc. to cook with. 
I don't freeze very much stuff. I either can it or dehydrate it. My fruit trees got caught by a late freeze this year. Had they made I probably would have froze some fruit.

Its really amazing how many jars of food you can eat in a year when your not buying that item at the store. I won't buy peppers, zucchini, squash at all at the store. For a couple reasons, they are either on what they call the dirty dozen list for highest level of pesticides if you can't get organic or  they are a crop that is being predominantly grown GMO (genetically modified ) now.So if we don't grow them we just do without. Add in that I have a lot of food allergies and that explains the selection of what we grow as well. :O)

Zucchini and Yellow Squash

The garbanzo beans I did not grow. I buy organic dried garbanzo beans and can them :O) Everything else you see in these photos I grew. Blackberries, my blackberries did very good this year!! I actually can a lot of beans and black eyed peas as we eat a ton of them.

Tomatoes with jalapeno (my rotel recipe) . Dill Relish, Sweet Relish, Ketchup (new recipe) Whole tomatoes, Zesty Zuchinni bread and butter pickles. 

 Dill pickles!!! mmmm we love dill pickles! Sweet Relish (new oh so yummy recipe I tried this year). Salsa Verde ( from tomatillos),  Onion Relish (oh I did buy Sweet Vadalia Onions when they came out to make that onion relish!)

 Whole tomatoes! Use a ton of these babies! You can't see it but also Mexican Salsa 

 Pickled Peppers another new recipe I tried and will stick with. They stay very crunchy!
 More sweet relish... 
 Whole Cherry tomatoes, another new recipe this year that I am realllllly pleased with and will be planting extra cherry tomato plants next year to can more of these... Jalapeno Jelly its so very good, is behind the tomatoes.

 Berries, and Kumquats! Yes I grow the Kumquats! :O) 

Ratatouille roasted onions, Zucchini and eggplants in tomatoes... oh so good!!! You already saw the Zucchini and squash above in another photo.

So there is a sampling of my canning :O). There is not a day that goes by that I am not emptying several jars for our meals and it just makes me smile! :O) 
Well you guys know me. I post and then I get super busy and I don't LOL... 

I am now over 400 jars canned with a few peppers left to go. Its been a very, very busy summer! 
I have also begun the work of pulling the tomato plants and cages, pulling the dead vines of this and that off the trellis. I think we are in for a early fall. I hope so! We have had a much better summer this year then we have had in many summers! But we are Texas hot now and we need rain. I won't complain though as I said we have had a much better summer this year than we have in a long long time, temperature wise and rain wise!

I have also been pegging plant limbs right and left into pots of dirt to root off new starts. I have done some blackberries, raspberries, lady banks roses, regular roses. I plan on doing some Texas Lilacs and a few other things as well!

I have taken cuttings and have many, many starts I hope of stevia. I saw on pinterest how to root it off from little cuttings using perlite so I am giving it a whirl! I read stevia is difficult to start from seed that you are better off doing cuttings. I did a lot so if even a good portion root I will have many new stevia plants which will require a new big bed for them! But I will have time before next spring to get that bed made. I also pegged a few stevia branches as well just in case these little cuttings decide not to root LOL. 

I will do a post with photos next time :O)

337 Jars and counting

I have been canning every single day! The garden out did itself this year!
I am at 337 jars as of today.

Tired? Why yes, yes I am LOL... But I am getting close  now to being done for this canning season.  So much  yummy healthy chemical free, preservative free,  pesticide free.....  organic goodies in our pantry!!!

I picked the spaghetti squash it was ready. Ya'll remember the photos of the vines, how they grew and grew and grew some more LOL and were loaded with spaghetti squash... 32 to be exact!! Wooowhooo what a haul! Those are winter squash and my experience has been they keep very well!


Preserving in new to me ways... whats blooming and seed giveaway

I have not had time to do anything with the eggplants. We have eaten some fresh but I want to preserve some as well. Eggplants are one of those vegetables that are not easy to preserve. There are just a few ways I know of. 

Then in a book called Perfect Preserves by Nora Carey there is a recipe for eggplant preserved in olive oil. Now as most of you guys know here in the USA  we don't do a lot of that type preserving as the FDA pretty much frowns on this and has assured us it will make us deathly ill if we do this LOL... ok so I am making fun of the FDA, a girl has to have some fun sometimes! This author is from Europe. This is a gorgeous book and worth owning just for the photos alone! Beautiful garden photos along with the photos of the foods etc. It has all sorts of ways to preserve food that are not the norm here. It also has recipes for meals to make from the food you preserve which I think is nice. One way I plan to use some of the preserved eggplant is on a pizza  as she shows it in the book. The book is out of print, but I was able to pick up a like new used copy last year on Amazon for just a couple dollars. 

I had to open a jar of the pickled cherry tomatoes... mmmmmmm they are good. Think salty like a dill pickled but not sour like a dill pickle. They are really good and I am canning more. Link the the Pickled Cherry tomatoes recipe  I did prick mine with a bamboo skewer. Just a small hole. The recipe says slice but I wanted mine whole. It worked great. They float a dab but just fill the jar snug without squishing them and that works out pretty good. 

I think the perfect cherry tomato for this recipe would be the principe borghese, this cherry tomato is used to dry because its a meaty cherry tomato. I grew it last year and it made and made and made... However since I didn't get to start my own seedlings this year. I didn't get to grow it. sighhh...This next year I will be able to start my own seedlings again :O) and its on the list.   I saved quite a few seeds off them. So I think I will do a seed give away! Anyone want to have their name put in the hat for some principe borghese seeds, just say so in a comment and I will do a drawing and mail the person the seeds :O)... 

 Will you look at these titger lilies! My new favorite flower, for today :O).  I saw little black lumps on the stem at the leaves... I thought ... could it be? Yes it is! Seeds! I read that they are very easy to propagate from seeds. So I have harvested the seeds, put them in the fridge like it said to. Then I will plant them as directed and hope I get some more of these gorgeous plants!

 Not to be left out of showiness LOL My Stargazer lilies are finallllllllllllllly going to bloom. I bought these bulbs on clearance two years ago and planted them. Nothing much happened last year. Oh they came up but they were pretty much do nothing little plants and no blooms showed up. So this year they came up and I got all excited because the plants looked much better. But then nothing, nothing, then about a month ago I saw them setting flowers! So finally they are going to open!! These lilies smell fantastic. I planted them as much for their fragrance as how pretty they are!

Canning all day

The way everything is coming off the garden its a bit of this and a bit of that instead of tons of this and tons of that all at once.... 
Without a doubt the cooler temps still staying below 100 actual degrees, though we have gone over 100 in our heat index... and the rain!!! The wonderful, wonderful rain we are still getting!! Both things have totally changed the way the garden is acting and doing... but that's okay.. I can work with small batches!

I did 7 quarts of whole dill pickles... Six 10 oz jars of whole cherry tomatoes, this is a new recipe for me and I am very excited about this. I will be opening a jar of these in a couple weeks to see what I think. If they are as good as I think they will be I will do more for sure. One 12 ounce jar of pickled sliced jalapenos.

 Are these just pretty or what!

 MMMM Dill Pickles!
 Thirteen 12 ounce jars of spiced tomato sauce. think Rotel.  I wasn't sure I could call my umm Spiced tomato sauce Rotel It taste just like it and we use a lot of this here. I was able to do a full batch on these! By the skin of my teeth I had enough tomatoes and jalapenos!

Did this all in one day and I  can tell you I was wore out. It took allll day to do it too. By the time I had the kitchen all cleaned up and everything washed, dried  and put away I was pretty well done in.  :O)
What a great day! 

Always fun to pick the garden

Its raining today again :O)... it rained yesterday! I picked the garden in the rain yesterday morning, just a lovely drizzling rain. It did that all day!
This was my haul from yesterday.
 The green tomatoes were picked due to a broken branch. they were all three on a small branch and it had broke. So I brought them inside to ripen. I usually pick my tomatoes shy of being ripe and let them finish inside or seems a bird inevitably will have a bite LOL... but those green ones are way greener than I would pick them usually.

This is what I picked this morning, in the rain :O)

 Its seem the birds are liking everything I planted this year. I have issues with them taking bites out of my tomatoes as I mentioned above so as I said I have learned to pick early and let them finish inside, but this year they seem a bit more fiesty with their efforts! I had another broken limb so got a couple more green tomatoes as well. I would have really liked to have left some of those tomatoes on the vine another day but I didn't feel I dared to do it with the birds being so piggy this year. My blackberries are getting ripe but I see the birds have discovered them as well. I am going to have to really pay close attention on getting them picked. I think they are getting about half right now. ;O( I surely don't want that to continue. I have some netting I may have to see if I can toss that over them. Funny how this year the birds are much more aggressive in my garden. I wonder why. 

I canned all day yesterday an will be doing so again today. Thats another post :O)